Visual Arts Picks

SONIC ABSORPTION

This brainy exhibit of sound-based art not only holds its own in ConWorks' massive gallery space, it talks back. Largely conceptual, the works are still evocative, and some even profound. Highlights include Jeremy Boyle's pristine cube containing chalky blue liquid that reveals sounds that can be seen but not heard: The liquid conducts sub-audible sound waves, creating mesmerizing, rolling rhythms that tremor, ripple, and erupt as they build momentum (see photo). Baggs McKelvey (A Chicken in Every Pot and Two Cars in Every Garage) and Joe Diebs (Aviary) use found objects to evoke contrasting moods. McKelvey constructs an absurd, miniature traffic jam out of worn toy cars lined in a snakey formation along the gallery floor. Accompanied by persistent honking sounds and a roughly animated video of these same cars, the piece laughs at the discrepancy between the American dream and work-a-day reality. Diebes' economical piece uses seven hanging white birdcages and recordings of altered bird songs to create a forlorn room, vacant with a sense of loss. On the other hand, Deborah Aschheim's hanging installation sprawls with baroque overabundance: Her translucent network of clear plastic tubing and organ-like sacs with baby monitors "embedded" in them re-transmits the sounds that other pieces in the show emit, mimicking the very act of hearing itself. Consolidated Works, 500 Boren Ave. N., 206-860-5245, 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Thurs.-Fri., 1 p.m.-8 p.m. Sat.-Sun. ELISE RICHMAN

NEOQUEER

This touring exhibit showcases a bunch of different strategies for making art that's distinctly queer. There's the easy shock value of Del LaGrace Volcano's portraits of ambiguous genitalia or Loren Cameron's explicit photograph of the results of a sex-change. More subtle and intriguing are John Waters' photomontage on Farrah Fawcett and camp, E.G. Crichton's odd "Spotless" series of curdling soaps, and Danica Phelps' gorgeous grids of line drawings, diaries and maps. Jonathan Weinberg's deadpan paintings of wrestlers playfully demonstrate the trouble with the whole notion of queer art: Sometimes it doesn't look any different until you pull it out of the closet. (Above is an untitled 2002 image by Adam Putnam.) CoCA, 410 Dexter Avenue N., 206-728-1980. 2 p.m.-8 p.m. Tues.-Thurs., noon-5 p.m. Fri.-Sun. Exhibit ends Wed. Mar. 31. ANDREW ENGELSON

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